CHARLES EARLAND – BACK TALK!
A pivotal album in the development of the use of the Hammond organ in jazz – and Charles Earland's first exposure to a large audience! During the 60s, Charles was bumping around the Philly scene quite a bit – and recorded some small group indie sides that first gave a glimpse of his unique sound on the organ. But with this record, Earland really broke out wide – and hit a huge audience that made him one of the most in-demand players of the early 70s! The Earland touch is summed up perfectly here – a really fluid approach to the keys that shakes loose the clunkier styles of older Hammond players, and goes for a tightened-up groove that puts equal emphasis on rhythm and melodic improvisation – in a way that's always made Charles' records some of the best jazz dancers to come out of Prestige. Earland has an amazing way of completely transforming a tune – taking a familiar melody, but riffing on it extensively – slowly expanding it through almost modal progressions – until the tune opens up into a long extended jazzy groove! Proof of this is the album's sublime 11 minute version of "More Today Than Yesterday" – a solid stepper that never gets old – and other tunes include "Black Talk", "The Mighty Burner", "Here Comes Charlie", and "Aquarius". Oh, and players include Virgil Jones, Houston Person, Melvin Sparks, and Idris Muhammed – an all-star lineup, but tightly guided by Charles as if they were his own working group! ~ Dusty Groove
MACEO PARKER – US
A killer-diller bit of essential funk – the only full album cut by Maceo with James Brown production! The set's got Maceo coming back strongly into the JB fold, with a fierce array of funky cuts that kick it every bit as hard as the best JBs work of the time. No surprise, the JBs are working with Maceo on the arrangements and backing – letting his funky horn take the lead, but coming up on their own with the impeccably tight rhythms that have forever made them the blueprint for funk forever! Features the great tracks "Soul Power 74" and "Parrty", which you may have on compilations, but also the great album tracks "I Can Play For (Just You and Me)" and "Soul of a Black Man", a 10 minute long, slow soul groove, with vocals by James Brown. ~ Dusty Groove
THE OHIO PLAYERS – OBSERVATIONS IN TIME
Wild! This early Ohio Players album is a masterpiece of 60s soul, and has a great group sound unlike any of their Westbound albums. The band is tight and funky, but in a sort of deep soul 60s way, with arrangements and playing that have a hard edge, and with nice guitar rhythm tracks. There's a lot of originals, like "Bad Bargain", "Lonely Street", and "Street Party", plus very cool covers of cuts like "Summertime" and "Mother In Law". Great trippy cover, too. Also includes 'Here Today & Gone Tomorrow", "Stop Lying To Yourself", "Over The Rainbow", "Find Someone To Love","Cold Cold World" and "The Man That I Am". ~ Dusty Groove